City of Ottawa recently initiated an Environmental Assessment (EA) Study to look at widening the Airport Parkway south of Brookfield Avenue and widening Lester Road from the Airport Parkway to Bank Street. The stated goal is to determine the most appropriate means to accommodate and manage increasing transportation requirements related to growth in the communities south of Hunt Club Rd.
Not surprisingly, many local residents and some of my colleagues on City Council are opposed to this idea, and I share their concerns. At a time when the City espouses the benefits of Complete Streets and expansion of public transit, and when funding for a new footbridge over the Rideau Canal remains elusive, why would we even consider spending many millions of dollars on widening existing roads, least of all to entice drivers towards a known bottleneck?
Why would we risk seriously undermining major investments in public transit by making it easier for even more private vehicles to access the already-congested centre of the city?
Why not, as many have already suggested, first extend the O-Train southward as planned, then wait a few years to see if road widening is really needed? What's the rush?
Well, it seems that population and traffic projections indicate there will be a "need" for this additional road capacity by 2031, so it was included in the long-term Transportation Master Plan. It also appears that the project would be mostly funded — to the tune of 94% — by development charges raised in the surrounding new communities, and these same funds cannot be spent on urban projects like a canal footbridge.
Luckily, the EA for the road widening just marks the beginning of a process meant to develop, assess and evaluate alternatives, which will result in a recommended plan to eventually be presented to City Council for approval. So the approval of the road widening is by no means a done deal, and neither is its eventual funding.
Now is the time to get involved and voice your opinions. Are you worried about increased commuter traffic through Capital Ward? Do you think wider roads are counterproductive to the City's long-term transportation goals, not to mention our finances?
I invite you to find out more about the project and how to participate in the debate by visiting the City's web page at ottawa.ca/airportparkway.
Road renewal planned for 2015 – Old Ottawa South
Some Old Ottawa South residents are bracing themselves for major roadwork this year, as the City of Ottawa prepares to rehabilitate all of Osborne Street, Ossington Ave. from Bank to Grosvenor, and Southern Drive from Riverdale to Avenue Rd.
The project includes the rehabilitation/replacement of the watermain, sanitary and storm sewers, plus new concrete curbs, sidewalks and road resurfacing. The work is scheduled to begin this spring or early summer, and should be substantially completed by the end of the year.
Road renewal planned for 2015 – Glebe
Some Glebe residents are bracing themselves for major roadwork this year and/or next as the City of Ottawa prepares to rehabilitate a number of streets. Ongoing work on First Ave. (Bronson to O'Connor) should be completed in August, while reconstruction of Broadway Ave. (Torrington to Ralph), plus the sections of Craig St. and Ralph St. south of Holmwood, is expected to start in May.
Reconstruction of Renfrew Ave., Wilton Cres., Wilton Ln. and Lakeview Terr. is scheduled to begin in 2016. Although dates and details are not yet set, Holmwood Ave. (east of Bank) and part of Chamberlain Ave. are slated for resurfacing.
Bus service improvements
OC Transpo plans to increase weekend bus service on Routes 1 and 7 to make public transit a more attractive option for people travelling along Bank St. These changes, along with the recent service increase on Route 6 and ongoing improvements to local pedestrian and cycling facilities (see next item), are expected to reduce parking pressures and congestion in the Glebe, especially around Lansdowne Park.
Pending budget approval and completion of detailed designs, the City plans to implement various safety improvements on Bronson Ave. by the end of this year. The measures include a signalized pedestrian/cycling crossing just south of the Rideau Canal, safer on- and off-ramps connecting to Colonel By Dr., and new, separated bike paths and tracks on that part of Bronson.
Plans are also afoot for (yet another) round of safety improvements on the Bank Street Bridge to make the curb lanes safer and thus more inviting to cyclists, with the benefit of freeing the sidewalks for pedestrians alone. Clearer signage, increased pavement markings and, crucially, a concerted user education campaign with "how/where to ride" videos are planned for this spring. Yes, there will be a spring!